Search

How personal loss prompted Paul to help others coping with bereavement

12:00 12 May 2014

Paul Sullivan with Keira Stiff, one of the children attending a Family Support Service’s art day

Paul Sullivan with Keira Stiff, one of the children attending a Family Support Service’s art day

Archant

Saint Francis Hospice’s family support manager Paul Sullivan understands the pain of losing a relative there far too well.

Paul Sullivan (centre rear) with Sue Spong (front centre) with a team of bereavement councillorsPaul Sullivan (centre rear) with Sue Spong (front centre) with a team of bereavement councillors

In 1993, his mother Sheila was taken to the hospice, in Havering-atte-Bower, while suffering from skin cancer.

She had been coping well at home until she woke up one morning unable to speak.

Paul, who was then 24 and working as a manager at a telecommunications company, had heard of 
another hospice in Hackney, but knew nothing of Saint Francis, and tried to calm his mum’s fears.

Memories

During her time in the 
inpatient unit, her symptoms were controlled, she regained some speech, and was discharged and given therapy at home.

Sadly, Sheila’s health 
deteriorated a few weeks later and she was readmitted to Saint Francis, where she died.

Paul said: “In the last week of my mum’s life we practically lived at the hospice. I have lots of fond memories of the family gathered at her bedside and taking my mum in a wheelchair around the beautiful hospice gardens in the summer heat.”

He took up the offer of counselling, along with other members of his family.

Everyone close to someone who dies while in the hospice’s care is offered support. They can have one-on-one meetings or opt for group sessions.

Paul, who lives in Romford, said the counselling helped him work through his grief and he returned to his job.

After the trauma of his mother’s death, which followed that of his partner the previous year, he did not think he would return to the hospice.

He said: “I was working in the City and facing 
redundancy, and the way counselling helped me sparked an interest. I wanted to help others.”

So Paul retrained and helped people at Whipps Cross Hospital and in the witness service at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

“I never expected to come back to the hospice but the job came up and I decided to apply,” he said.

He got the job in 2005, and is now the Family Support Service manager at Saint Francis.

When he came back, Paul found the stigma about counselling which was still there in the 1990s was dissolving and more people were embracing the help on offer.

Since 2005, the service has gone from helping 200 clients a year to more than 1,500, and there is now a dedicated children’s service.

Paul describes his job as a “privilege” as he helps people through the toughest times.

He said: “After my mother died I thought I was 
going mad with some of the things I was feeling.

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 20:23
Drapers' Academy hosted a debate on the EU so its students can be informed ahead of the referendum

Harold Hill students got the chance to grill the borough’s politicians in a fiery and passionate debate today about the EU referendum.

Yesterday, 17:32
Members of the Havering Quilters made dresses for girls in third world countries out of pillowcases. Photo: Susan Persaud

Members of a sewing club have turned pillowcases into pretty decorated dresses for young girls living in third world countries.

Yesterday, 12:11
Darren Disley, CEO of Horizon Discovery.

After growing up on an estate and leaving school early, a CEO of a multi-million pound company now wants to reach out to young people in Havering.

Yesterday, 12:00
Voters will take to the polls to choose the next London mayor and their GLA representatives on May 5

As the countdown begins to Thursday’s elections, we profile Havering and Redbridge’s five local GLA candidates vying to win. Here is what you need to know about your local candidates.

Yesterday, 11:09
A person was hit by a train this morning at Romford station

Trains have been suspended between Romford and Ilford after a person was hit by a train at Romford station this morning.

Yesterday, 10:11
Firefighters attended the fire in Crow Road

Firefighters tackled a blaze at a travellers site in the early hours of this morning.

Yesterday, 07:00
Boy racers have been holding huge meet-ups in Ferry Lane, Rainham.

People will be killed if street racers keep performing illegal late night stunts in front of hundreds of onlookers at an industrial estate, police have warned.

Thu, 16:00
The Mayor of Havering, Cllr Brian Eagling with pupils at Nelmes Primary School, Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch

The pupils have embarked on a voyage of discovery after planting seeds that have been in space with astronaut Tim Peake.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe